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As the mentioned societies characterized themselves for athleticism, power and strength so it was not a surprising thing that those people looked down on and hated babies who were weak, dependent and immature. Thus, an individual child was given importance on the basis of his likable future contributions to the society as a mature adult. Regrettably, no rules and regulations and laws were there that prohibited people from murdering the helpless and ill babies. Sorry to say, in some cases, even the newborn babies who were in good physical health did not have protection by social custom or lawful decrees. It is a bitter reality that killing of malformed babies was considered important for the maintenance of the quality of the civilians. Similar practices were also common in some parts of the Eastern world (Wyatt 1).
As far as the secular perspective in this regard is concerned, a number of contemporary philosophers today have accepted the fact that unwanted babies were killed or allowed to die and it was not an abnormal practice in many of the societies in the historical times and societies. It is also claimed that even today people do not consider the murdering of unwanted babies as unethical and this is evident from the fact that prenatal diagnosis and abortion for fetal abnormality is now accepted by a lot of people and societies. Thus, this acceptance crystal clearly demonstrates that even the modern societies of today value the life of a child on his/her physical strength and healthiness and his/her prospected future contributions as an adult citizen for the society (Wyatt 2).
Neonatal care raises a number of ethical issues including the deserving neonates who must be given prenatal and neonatal specialty care, the person/group responsible for paying for the care, whether neonatal intensive care costs are acceptable or not, the assurance and equitable distribution of the care, whether babies require intensive care or not, the burdensome consequences of neonatal intensive care, the decision-maker and on what basis decisions are made. These mentioned issues create dilemmas for the healthcare professionals as they obstruct the process of provision of neonatal intensive care. To some extent, these ethical issues concerning neonatal care throw light on the values of the healthcare professions, patients, parents and families. It is important to mention that that these issues are not to be ignores as the failure to acknowledge them may devalue the cultural influences that may shape up a society and human interactions.
As already mentioned, neonatal medicinal advancements have provided more options to the physicians and parents. However, what must be done is still a complex decision for them as risks of deaths and disabilities have also increased. This ethical issue has been the factor of conflict between parents and doctors and in a number of cases; guidance was required through courts (Laurance 42). The research suggests that neonates must not be given medical aid and be allowed to breathe their last "when the struggle to save them results in "intolerable" suffering that outweighs the baby's interest in continuing to live" (Laurance 42). As far as my opinion is concerned, I believe that it is the obligation of a doctor to preserve the life of a human being wherever and whenever possible. As far as neonates are concerned, these babies always have a chance to survive in the future and there have been cases when extremely premature babies were enabled to live a full life. One of the most encouraging aspects in this regard is that in the last decade, the rate of survival of exceedingly weak babies has more or less doubled. I strongly believe that the physicians and parents/guardians must not attempt to do anything that may put a stop to the continued existence of a little one simply for the reason that he/she won't be a healthy and contributing adult in the future due to his unhealthy severe physical condition (Laurance 42).
However, it is unfortunate that all the answers of the mentioned dilemmas are rather difficult as there is always a clash between values conflict and principles of morality. In addition to this, it is also not easy to agree upon a consistent situation where beneficence can be chosen over autonomy and vice versa. A majority of people hold on to both the sides of the conflict i.e. "the respect for persons principle and to the principle of beneficence" that helps them to decide about the particular actions that may result in the best consequences for the patient and the family. Unfortunately, there is no special recipe that may facilitate the involved people to decide about what is the best thing to do in situations when there is a conflict between these principles. This is also not fair to stick to one decision and disregard the other options. Thus, the best thing that can be done by a decision maker in the occurrence of such conflicts is to do a deep analysis of the situation in the most cautious manner and try to identify the values at risk and all people who may be affected by the outcomes of the decision. For sure, the patient's interests must be the top priority before the interests of others involved (Macklin).
To cut a long story short, it is better not to utilize the neonatal intensive care "when the death of the baby can only be postponed temporarily, at the price of severe suffering, or when survival is associated with severe disabilities and an intolerable life for the child and the family" (Orzalesi). This is because in some unique circumstances, the best alternative for the betterment of the child is to withhold or withdraw intensive treatment.
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Laurance, J.. "Should Doctors Try to Save Extremely Premature Babies? The Big Question." The Independent [London] 16 Nov. 2006: 42. Questia. Web. 6 May 2013.
Macklin, R. "Ethical Principles, Individual Rights, and Medical Practices." National Forum Fall 1989: 25+. Questia. Web. 7 May 2013.
Orzalesi, M. "Ethical problems in the care of high risk neonates." The Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine 3 (2010): 7-10. Print.
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